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Pioneer Women of Jefferson
Posted by: Carol Page Tilson (ID *****2353) Date: May 20, 2010 at 04:01:25
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From "Memorial to the Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve," Part I, Mrs. Gertrude Van Rensselaer Wickham, Editor [published under the auspices of the Women’s Department of the Cleveland Centennial Commission, July, 1896], p. p. 45-49:


Jefferson, county seat of Ashtabula County, Ohio, with a present population of 1,500, was bought by Gideon Granger in 1798. It is on the Jamestown branch of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad, sixty miles east of Cleveland.

The town is beautifully located, being built on an elevation, with the courthouse in the center. The streets are wide, at right angles, and are modeled after those in Philadelphia. They are shaded by fine old elms and maples, for which Jefferson is noted. The houses, which are largely permanent homes, show thrift and comfort. It is a typical New England village. The schools are superior, are equipped with fine buildings and an excellent corps of teachers. Jefferson is famous as the home of Giddings, Wade, W. D. Howells, and others who rank high in the political and literary world.

In 1804 Michael Webster, Jr., came from Franklin, N. Y., and made the first opening in the wilderness. In 1805 he brought his wife [Olive Loveland] and one child. For nine months she was the only white woman in the township. Polly, their daughter, wife of Thompson Wallace, was the first white child to be born in Jefferson.

Nancy Frithy came from Washington, D. C., in 1806, and in the following year was married to Jonathan Warner. Mounting the horse behind him, she took her wedding journey to his log cabin at the western end of Jefferson street. In this vicinity she continued to reside until her death, in her ninety-second year.

She was truly a gentlewoman, the influence of whose devout and loving spirit was felt by many outside her family circle, and so may rightfully be classed among the powers that "made for righteousness" IN THE COMMUNITY.

Her daughter, Mrs. C. S. Simonds, has spent her life of over seventy years in this place. She is a noble woman of rare intellect, whose judgment and wisdom, combined with a heart gentle and kind, has won for herself the loving esteem of all who know her.

Mrs. Daniel Webster, nee Deborah Ferris, came from Bradford, N. Y., in 1808, with her husband and daughters, Lorena and Alvira. Here two more daughters were born to them, Sarah and Harriet. Mrs. Webster -- Aunt Debbie -- is remembered with affectionate regard.

Elizabeth Clark [Mrs. Michael Webster, Sr.] arrived in Jefferson with her husband and family in 1808. She was the revered mother of twelve children.

During the War of 1812, when tea was almost WORTH ITS WEIGHT IN GOLD, Betsy Fletcher, wife of Durlin Hickok, came with her family from Sheffield, Mass. The scarcity of tea, and difficulty in obtaining it, was deeply felt. Her daughter, Betsy [Mrs. James Loomis] sent a dollar by the carrier, who brought her from Erie a very small quarter of a pound, she paying him twenty-five cents for his services. To make the tea last as long as possible, she would alternate a cup with a good smell of it from the canister.

Louisa, wife of Joseph Mead, is the only surviving member of the family. She is in her seventy-third year, walks one and a half miles to the Baptist Church, of which she is the oldest member but one, having united fifty years ago. She is a devout Christian, quiet, and dignified, with a rare intellect and excellent memory, to which we are indebted for most of this memorial work.

Miss Simonds has kindly furnished the following sketch of the Atkins family:

Mary Atkins made the journey to California in 1854, via the Isthmus of Panama. Soon after reaching San Francisco she began to teach, and established at Benecia the first Protestant seminary for girls in California. Returning to Ohio, she taught for a short time in the Cleveland High School. She married Hon. John Lynch, of Louisiana, and after some eventful experiences of the "reconstruction" period, returned with him to Benecia, Cal.

Martha Atkins became the wife of the Rev. John Todd, and went to Iowa. Here, in addition to the duties of a minister’s wife, she taught school and fitted her oldest son for college, in due time to return to her own alma mater, for she was one of the second class of ladies graduated from Oberlin in the classical course. She died in Tabor, Ia.

Bertha Atkins Judson, the only surviving sister, resides with her daughter, Mrs. Theodore Judson Fox, at No 133 Crawford road, Cleveland.

Among all the early settlers of Jefferson none are more deserving of especial mention than the wife and daughters of Quintus F. Atkins, who removed here from the adjoining township of Morgan in 1816. The mother, Sally Wright, accompanied her parents from Connecticut in 1802, and was married in 1804. In the spring of 1804 she and her husband, in company with Rev. Mr. Badger, went on a mission to the Indians at Sandusky, O. They journeyed in a boat, loaded with supplies for the mission, down Grand River to Lake Erie, where, with a party of Indians, with their families in canoes, they journeyed along the south shore of the lake to Sandusky. Repeated attacks of fever and ague compelled them to return to their home in Morgan at the end of two years’ service. Their second daughter was born at this station, and an Indian nurse named the puny child "USH-UM-DUM-U-CAH" [spotted fawn.] Mrs. Atkins died in Cleveland in 1853.

Of her 12 children, nine were daughters, and most of them pioneers in various ways. All were women of eminent for intelligence, strength of character, and deep religious principle. Emily, Louisa and Flora are especially remembered as early teachers of Jefferson, whose influence was forceful and abiding. Emily began teaching at the age of fifteen and afterward married a pioneer farmer of Geneva, O., known to a later generation AS CAPTAIN GEORGE TURNER.

Sarah Louisa, a lady of rare qualities of mind and heart, became the wife of the Hon. Edward Wade of Cleveland.

Stella Maria, wife of Harvey Gaylord, lived in Jefferson for some years after her marriage, and later in Geneva. Her last residence was in Saginaw, Mich. In every place her generous nature and genial, social qualities won for her the warmest regard of associates and neighbors.

Ophelia Atkins Bostwick was the wife of one of the first physicians who practiced in the city of Toledo. She died in Emmetsburg, Ia.

The strong personality of Flora Atkins Wheeler, which was impressed upon her early associates and pupils in Jefferson, found expression after her marriage in earnest efforts for the moral and temporal welfare of the employees of her husband in his lumbering interests in Portville, N. Y. a small town on the Allegheny River. To their wives she was also a veritable home missionary, and her influence is still felt in that lovely little village, noted in all that region for its morality.

Helen Atkins died unmarried in Cleveland. She was fitting herself for a foreign missionary, but in the last year of her seminary course too close application to study brought on a disease of the brain, causing total blindness some time before death. This trial was borne with patience and resignation.

We are indebted to Miss Kate Giddings, granddaughter of Hon. J. R. Giddings, for the following:

Laura Waters Giddings was born at Granby, Conn., January 19, 1798. When quite young her father moved to Gustavius, O. There she taught school, and at the age of twenty-one years was married to JOSHUA R. GIDDINGS. In 1822 they moved to Jefferson, which was their home the remainder of their lives. She was a most devoted wife and mother, and entered into her husband’s interests and work with all the earnestness of her quiet, sincere nature. Eight children were born to them, and year after year, during the long sessions of Congress, the care of the family devolved mainly upon her. All this she bore uncomplainingly and with sweet patience. In 1864 her husband died suddenly. The blow was more than her already overtaxed strength could endure, and in less than six months, she followed him.

In the tribute Boyesen paid to his mother we are reminded of Mrs. Giddings. He says of her; "One whose beautiful personality spread a quiet radiance about her beautiful life. I may without invidious comparison select as fairly representative, and the man of whose home she was the bright and shining focus would have been the first to claim for her every ideal perfection. From the early morn to the dewy eve she was in ceaseless activity, never breathless and hurried, but always quietly ministering to the wants of the many, whose welfare in a hundred ways depended upon her foresight, sagacity and tender solicitude."

Lura Maria Giddings was the eldest daughter of Joshua R. and Laura Waters Giddings. She was a woman of more than ordinary endowments and one of the early workers in the anti-slavery reform. She possessed considerable literary ability, as her articles written for the press give evidence.

Laura Giddings Julian was the youngest child of Joshua R. and Laura Waters Giddings, and inherited many of the distinguishing qualities of both parents. She possessed a very sunny, lovable disposition, which made her a general favorite. In December 1863, she was married to Hon. George W. Julian, of Indiana. She had no enemies, for coldness or hostility melted away in the sunshine of her sweet face and the loving accent of her words. She believed that

"To worship rightly, is to love each other,
Each smile a hymn, each kindly deed a prayer."

Emeline Ryder, wife of F. B. Pierce, was one of the early school teachers in Jefferson. She is a woman of culture and refinement. When a child and living in Austinburg, she caught a fawn that ran with a herd of deer ACROSS HER FATHER’S FARM.

Mrs. Apollos D. Bates moved to Jefferson with her husband from Nelson, O., about 1826. Her maiden name was Eliza Stowe. The house built by Mr. Bates became later the home of Hon. B. F. Wade.

Charlotte Jones, wife of Cyrus T. Smith, came from Philadelphia, a young bride in 1828., to occupy the house which is now the home of Hon. E. H. Fitch. The failing health of her husband caused their removal to the South. But after his death she returned, and was married later to William Goodrich. She was educated, accomplished, and had been accustomed to the best society of Philadelphia. Her son, Uselma T. Smith, Esq., of Philadelphia says of her:

"Mother and Mr. Goodrich were constant readers, and having a good library, our home was ready for use for literary entertainment’s by their friends. She was of a calm, thoughtful nature, and always ready to lend her aid in sickness."

Mrs. Oliver Atwell, nee Maria Dann, came to Jefferson with her husband and two daughters from Ridgefield, Conn., in 1832. Mrs. Atwell was a remarkable woman. She had great strength of character, and ambition, and bravely met all the trials and hardships that was sure to follow in the path of a pioneer. Her mind remained clear to the end. She died in her ninetieth year.

In 1833, Dr. Horatio N. Hulburt, moved to Jefferson from Vermont, with his young wife, Sabina Lumbard, and one young son, now Dr. Vincent Hulburt, of Chicago. They occupied the house now owned by W. M. Kellogg, Esq. Mrs. Hulburt was a fine singer, and for years the family largely composed the Congregational Church choir. Her granddaughter, Miss Tobey, of Chicago, says of her:

"Her voice was just as sweet when she died as I ever knew it to be. She was a devoted Christian and loved by everyone who knew her."

Mrs. Samuel H. Robinson, born Chloe Calkins, came from Waterburg, Vt., to Jefferson in 1833. Mrs. Hon. E, H. Fitch, to whom we are indebted for this sketch, says: "She was the sixth child of John Prentiss Calkins and Sarah Harris, his wife. Some of her ancestors came to America in 1630, and some of them ON THE MAYFLOWER in 1620. She was a woman of great courage, and strong Christian principles. She died at the age of fifty years, and her grave in the cemetery attracts attention from the fact that a sapling oak set by kind hands between it and that of her niece, Cordelia Calkins Andrus, has grown to a mighty tree, holding with its roots and protecting with its friendly branches these graves of two brave pioneer women, who died so far from their loved mountain home in Vermont.

Rebecca Johnson Woodward, born at Wakefield, Mass., moved to Ohio in 1835 with her husband, James Whitmore, and three small sons. Mrs. Whitmore is the oldest living pioneer woman in Jefferson, being in her eighty-ninth year. She descended from early colonists, and Puritan principles imbibed in youth, have remained with her through her life. Mrs. Whitmore’s gracious hospitality was extended not only to her friends, but all who entered her home there and found a welcome.

Sybil Sawdy, who came to Jefferson from Springfield, Pa., at an early day, was the wife of Walter Allee, who built the first house on the Bunnell farm. She has the distinction of being the only woman who ever shot a bear.

The three Marsh sisters, Mesdames Zebediah Dennison, A. K. Hawley, and Thomas Marr, came from Manillus, N. Y. in 1838. They were women of fine qualifications, and always held a prominent place in the church and society.

Sarah Devoe, wife of Walter Strong, came to Jefferson in 1843 from Linesville, Pa. She was originally from the East, and of French extraction. In the early days Mr. and Mrs. Strong were noted as being the handsomest couple in the county. She had a bright, sunny disposition, and benevolent nature that prompted untiring activity in caring for the sick and relieving the poor. Two daughters came to Jefferson with her, Mrs. Samuel Fassett, of Washington, D. C., and Mrs. J. A. Hervey, of this place. Mrs. Fassett is well known throughout the land through her famous painting of the "Electoral Commission", which SOLD FOR $10,000. The family are all fine singers.

Mrs. E. A. Fitch has kindly prepared the following sketch of Mrs. B. F. Wade:

Caroline Maria Rosekrans was born at Lansingburg, N. Y., July 30, 1805. Her father was Dupue Rosekrans, a merchant at that place, who died when she was in her second year. Her mother was Sarah, eldest daughter of Nehemiah Hubbard, and Cornelia Willis, his wife, and a descendant of George Hubbard, the first American ancestor. Her father was deputy paymaster general of Connecticut for the Army of the American Revolution, and a banker in Middletown, Conn. After the death of [text missing from printed copy] to the home of her parents, and later married Enoch Parsons. Their only son was Hon. Henry E. Parsons.

The family continued their residence in Middletown till the younger Parsons removed to Ohio in 1832, where Colonel Nehemiah Hubbard had large landed interests as one of the Connecticut Land Company. Mrs. Parsons and daughter arrived in 1837, and for awhile were members of the family of Colonel William Hubbard, their cousin, who lived in THE LARGE BRICK HOUSE on the point at Ashtabula Harbor. Subsequently Mr. Parsons built the house on Walnut street, Ashtabula Harbor, now known as the Joseph D, Hulbert homestead, and there the family resided and Miss Rosekrans married May 19, 1841, Hon. Benjamin Franklin Wade, of Jefferson, O., where nearly opposite the court house on Jefferson street, they made their home. Mrs. Wade was tall and of commanding appearance. "Having no position to attain, she quietly took what was hers of right and by use." She aspired not to be a leader in society or fashion, but did her duty by society, dressed with propriety, then turned to matters of greater import. A constant reader, her strong mind assimilated the best of what she read. She spent money with discretion, kept accounts with care, and was not only confidante but adviser of her busy husband.

When he was elected to the United States Senate, she went with him to Washington and established a restful inspiring home. After their return to Ohio, and the death of Mr. Wade, she withdrew from the world. She never failed mentally, was interested in current events, but dwelt quietly in her home till June 10, 1889, she passed from earth and her grave was made beside that of her distinguished husband, in Jefferson Cemetery.

There are many noble pioneer women whom we would gladly have mentioned in this sketch, but assigned space limits us, together with the difficulty the committee has labored under in obtaining facts.

MRS. J. A. HOWELLS, Chairman and Historian. Jefferson committee -- Mrs. E. H. Fitch, Mrs. Joseph Mead, Mrs. George Webster, Miss Ada Simonds, Miss Frances Shattuck, Miss Minnie Giddings, Miss Kate Giddings.


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